The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), Giovanni Buttarelli, has called for a broader discussion both on a European level and globally on ensuring the integrity of values while embracing the benefits of new technologies.
In his latest opinion, Mr Buttarelli states that he intends to establish an Ethics Advisory Board consisting of, "a select group of distinguished persons from the fields of ethics and philosophy, sociology, psychology, technology and economics, supported as required by additional experts with knowledge and expertise in areas like health, transport and energy, social interaction and media, economy and finance, governance and democracy and security and policing".
The Board will conduct multidisciplinary analysis, provide recommendations and debate on how a free, democratic society should meet technological challenges. The EDPS proposes a four-tier "big data protection ecosystem" which respects ethical considerations to address digital privacy challenges, such as future oriented regulation of data processing and respect for the rights to privacy and to data protection, accountable data controllers, privacy conscious engineering and design of data processing products and services and empowered individuals. The opinion from Mr Buttarelli highlights upcoming technology trends which are likely to involve inappropriate use of personal data, such as big data, the internet of things, increasing drone usage and 3D bio printing.
The new ethics board will aim to better assess the ethical implications of how personal information is defined and used in the technology environment, with a view to underpinning the rights and freedoms of individuals. Accountability over mechanical compliance is a key theme being stressed the EDPS which can be achieved via closer relationships being established between the regulators in Europe.